6 Steps To Finding Your Professional Mentor
Looking for a professional mentor? Don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be a crazy-long process, and you don’t need to already be in the right circles to find one. Having a mentor can help boost your career, offer a fresh perspective and give you valuable insight related to your profession. Let’s go find you one — here are six steps to follow to find your match.
1. Establish what you want in a mentor.
Do some soul searching and consider what type of person you’d like to give you guidance. What kind of personality do you click with, and how would you like your mentor to communicate with you? Do you want to meet frequently and text on a daily basis, or only check in when you need some advice? These are all questions you should answer before you begin your search. Most importantly, you want someone who will complement your personality without having the same personality. Look for someone who can challenge your way of thinking while encouraging you to succeed.
2. Research your field and recent news pertaining to it.
No matter how long you’ve been in your respective field, it’s important to stay on top of the leaders in it, as well as the latest news. Sign up for newsletters, follow influencers and monitor LinkedIn posts that pertain to your field, and when you feel ready, start engaging with the community. Ask questions. Find out about industry events. Do what you need to do to stay relevant.
3. Look within your network.
Never limit yourself to your own circles, but it doesn’t hurt to look around you at the same time. Reach out to your best colleagues at your current company and from previous jobs. Reconnect with former bosses — those who know you and your career goals well — and ask if they have any ideas on who would be a good match for you. You just might learn that your former editor from two jobs ago has the perfect connection.
4. Begin your outreach and see who responds.
Compile a list of potential mentors and send out personalized, yet professional, emails or messages on LinkedIn. You’re testing the waters. See who responds, and if someone doesn’t respond, let it be. The key here is to get the ball rolling, but let things progress naturally. You don’t gain anything by being forceful with your communication.
5. Let your potential mentors know exactly what you want.
Once you have a a good conversation going, you’ll want to get together in person. When you do, let your potential mentor know exactly what you’re looking for in the relationship. Are you hoping to gain industry guidance or are you hoping to climb the ladder at your company and want to know how to do it? Make your intentions clear, including how often you’d like to communicate and what you want to discuss.
6. Trust your gut.
As with virtually all relationships, chemistry is everything. It’s no different when it comes to choosing a mentor. Someone might “check all the boxes” (she’s nice, she’s a leader in your industry, she makes herself available, etc.), but you need more than that for the relationship to flourish. A good working dynamic with your mentor is a must, so if you’re not feeling it, keep looking. And you’ll likely need more than one meeting to figure out if someone’s the right fit.